Nearly a decade ago MGM went bankrupt and the resulting financial quagmire threw a lot of movies into disarray. It delayed development on a Bond movie, on The Hobbit which at the time was being stewarded by Guillermo Del Toro, and a bunch of movies got shelved in the fallout, including a horror movie called The Cabin in the Woods. That movie, directed by Drew Goddard, ended up being released a couple years post-bankruptcy, in 2012, and went on to become a cult favorite. It’s also notable as one of the pre-Thor performances of Chris Hemsworth, and in hindsight, it’s one of the tips that he is a comedy guy. It’s just that back then, we didn’t know Hemsworth and had no reason to doubt his earnest jock schtick. In retrospect, what he’s doing in Cabin is a SPOT ON parody of a horror movie jock, one of the most archetypal characters in all of cinema, we just didn’t have the frame of reference to see it. So now Cabin becomes this kind of artifact, the sign we all missed. And Drew Goddard (and casting directors Anya Collof and Amy McIntyre Britt) gets to feel smug that he spotted Hemsworth’s comedy chops before anyone else.
Goddard and Hemsworth are now re-teaming for Bad Times at the El Royale, another horror movie with what looks to be a similar concept to Cabin. A bunch of people are stuck in a remote hotel on the California/Nevada state line, and something weird is going on. At least one character is not who they seem—a staple of the “isolated strangers” sub-genre—the staff spy on the customers, and there is mysterious management. I am super into the look of El Royale, which sort of looks like The Shining but a casino hotel instead of a mountain resort, and also more openly comedic. I bet there will be a parody of The Shining at some point in this movie.
The cast is absolutely stacked, with Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm, Cynthia Erivo, Jeff Bridges, Nick Offerman, Manny Jacinto, and Hemsworth, the only Cabin alum to return. Hemsworth doesn’t appear until late in the trailer, and he’s playing…a cult leader? The devil? A Manson-esque serial killer? Whoever he is, he looks like a bad guy. Hemsworth rarely plays bad guys (A Perfect Getaway comes to mind, and that’s it). No one has really tapped into Hemsworth’s capacity for menace on screen. Is Goddard onto something? He was prescient about Hemsworth’s comedic sensibility. Has he seen something else in Hemsworth’s arsenal that has been overlooked?
Attached - Chris Hemsworth at a Tag Heuer event in Sydney the other day.